Franklin Countys First News

Atlantic salmon meeting elicits concern, support

Team members from the Walton Mill's Dam project show a generated image of Temple Stream.

FARMINGTON - A final draft of the Walton's Mill Dam project report was presented to the public Wednesday night after being open for comments since early December. The finalized edition of the report saw only minor changes from the draft and will be available for closer review at the town office within the next few weeks.

The research process has been underway for about a year now, addressing the dam and Temple Stream - areas that were designated critical habitat for the endangered Atlantic salmon by the National Marine Fisheries in 2009.

"It really is phenomenal habitat for the salmon. For the recovery of this species in Maine, Temple Stream is a high priority site," Atlantic Salmon Federation representative John Burrows told the crowd of 30.

The report included an outline of two different options for the dam- a complete removal of the historic structure, or the construction of a fish ladder along one side. While the town does have the option of voting against interfering with the dam at all, Burrows said it could be a potential liability for the town due to the endangered status of the salmon and the condition of the dam.

The proposed fish ladder, a Denil model, would cost around $380,000 and would require repairs to the dam prior to construction which would cost roughly $350,000. This option would not receive funding and would need to be paid for by the town.

If the town decided to remove the dam, the estimated costs would be around $400,000. Burrows said ASF is ready to raise and invest this money in the project, as well as in improvements to the surrounding park, estimated at $455,000. An engineer from Richardson and Associates gave the crowd an overview of potential park design options, including improvements to the parking lot, making the area more handicap-accessible and incorporating a historical representation of the dam. The total cost of the project, covered by secured funding, would be $1.2 million.

The discussion raised concern from some residents, support from others.

Many long-time residents view the dam as an important historical landmark. Others are skeptical that removing the dam would truly have the resurgent affect on the salmon population that the ASF says it will. Some just enjoy Temple Stream the way it is now- used for kayaking and canoeing and wish to keep it a place of active exploration.

For those in support of the removal of the dam, the option seems obvious- a completely paid for project that would bring a new and improved park and would contribute to the reestablishment of the salmon population.

"I was very opposed to this idea when it first came up. But now we have the option of spending $720,000 of tax payers money or infusing $1.2 million into the town for improvements. Who knows, it might even be a national attraction some day," Town Manager Richard Davis said.

The next steps will be securing the potential funds if voters were to pass the dam removal and then bringing the conversation to a vote- most likely at next year's annual town meeting, Davis said.

"This is going to require a lot of input. It won't happen immediately and it won't be five selectmen sitting in a room making the decisions," Davis said.

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18 Responses »

  1. Mr. Davis should read Nancy’s comment in the other article. That is true history, not some plaque placed where a landmark once stood. With recent current events the bleeding hearts should be focused on gun control or who had sex in Hollywood, not imaginary salmon. Let nature take care of the dam.

  2. It may help,the salmon, but will have a negative impact on the native brook trout, I've seen it in some of the streams that flow into the sany river. You can catch plenty of small salmon, that you can't keep, and few if any brook trout.

  3. Why would the ladder option “not receive funding” while the “ASF is ready to raise and invest this money in the project” to remove the dam?

  4. The town very simply can not, and should not, fund this project; therefore, the solution is obvious.

  5. First I have to ask the same question as Dave, why is the ASF providing substantial funding for one and not the other? We have had family here since the early 1940’s and have yet to ever catch a salmon from temple stream. In fact, there was a long period of time before trout started coming back. And that’s probably due to stocking them annually. If the AFS is truly concerned and truly found salmon in these waters they would support both options and not show favor to one. Is the dam area the only option for them to spawn? I doubt it, which is why I and others are questioning the fact that salmon exist in this water.

    My bigger concern in following this project is that no one has mentioned or expressed concerns around the other habitat that utilizes the stream, such as the turtles, deer, beaver and many others. More concerning is the fact that the American Eagles have returned for the last few years, nesting and producing offspring. I’m no expert on the legalities of upsetting a natural environment for the Eagles, but do know there are rules and regulations out there to protect the areas in which they choose to nest. They are here because of the food source available due to the depth of the stream in this area. By removing the dam the water level will be impacted in a drastic manner. It’s a known fact that when we have a shortage of rain fall the water level decreases and Temple Stream shows it’s sand bar beneath it until it rains and the water level rises again. The dam assist in making this happen and removing it will not allow this to happen. In turn the other habitat, including the Eagles will be forced away from this area.

    ASF is pressuring the town officials and towns people to see it there way by threatening an increase in tax payer dollars. It was noted Dick Davis was thinking he was against the project, but now after last nights meeting he has changed his mind and hopeful for a national attraction some day? Farmington is a great town, but needs a lot more than removing a dam to become a national attraction. Don’t forget people, we vote on the town budget every year. We have choices. The issues to be addressed should be facts around all of nature... not just a theory that it’s possible there may be salmon... and definitely not based on whether or not an organization such as the ASF will or will not help fund one project or another.

    So I challenge those who are in favor of protecting the rest of nature’s creatures on Temple Stream, especially the American Bald Eagle, to help me in finding the right people to address my concerns to keep them protected against the removal of the dam.

    Thank you.

  6. Have you seen what's taken place in the PNW? It isn't good. Not even a little bit. Be mindful of messing with nature too much.

  7. I agree with "Concerned" Beyond my personal sentimental feelings about the loss of a most peaceful area, my concern is for the other creatures that inhabit this mill pond. My family has spent many hours watching the ducks, geese, muskrat, beavers, turtles and, yes, the eagles. Even otters have been seen playing on the ice and water. My children, grandchildren and now great-grand children, as well as many other neighborhood families have fished this muddy pond many times in the last 63 years and to my knowledge have never caught a salmon, below the dam or above it in the Walton's Mill Pond. But it has been a place where memories have been made and very much a part of my back yard. A place where my husband sat beside his beehives and watched the wildlife after a busy day at work or weeding in his garden or mowing the lawn. Finding a turtle burying it's eggs in the garden will always be remembered. Sentimental Me.

  8. "many other neighborhood families have fished this muddy pond many times in the last 63 years and to my knowledge have never caught a salmon, below the dam or above it in the Walton's Mill Pond."

    I'm waiting for someone some years down the line to say "I told you so, no salmon!" to be followed "reasonably" by "Hey, look what I just caught!"

  9. Its odd to think that so many people are worried about a rising sea level, Why wouldn't we keep damns in place. Another question is has Nestle provided anysort of funding to ASF ? The salmon have been fine not traveling up Temple stream for over 200 years. If they are so concerned about the fish why not produce funding for either option? It seems kinda fishy to me that they are only interested in their choice not the people who live in the area.

  10. I was not able to make it to this meeting, but I am definitely concerned about the impact on the ecosystem. What info has this group presented in regards to the potential effects this would have on other species in the area?

  11. I own quite a bunch of temple stream frontage, maybe i can develop it into condo, and get Cabellas to build a big box store for all the potential fishermen to vacation here

  12. Nothing lasts forever, just rip it down, before it comes down and hurts somebody. It wasn't always there, no harm done, just putting it back to the way it was. Don't be so sentimental, learn to let go.

  13. I have been fishing for Atlantic Salmon for 55 years both in Maine and Canada. Some where in the area of 30 to 40 years ago the Atlantic Salmon fishing in the Down East Rivers was quite good. I personally caught fish in the Dennys River, Machias River, East Machias River, Narraguagus River and the Penobscot River. Then we (Maine) were told that we were doing things all wrong and the Atlantic Salmon Federation took over Salmon restoration. Today, even if it were legal to fish for them, I suspect a person would have to put in a multitude of hours and days and thousands upon thousands of casts in order to be lucky enough to get a strike. (Most likely not)

    Millions upon millions of tax payers dollars have been spent over the decades since and what do we have to show for it? Not fish that's for sure. I kinda think we were doing it more correctly way back when. I believe, had the ASF not been involved, that today we would be catching fish at a rate as hi or higher than we were decades ago when the fishing was quite good.

    In my opinion the ASF has done little at a very high cost. It's fisheries biology welfare.

    They will pay if we do it their way, the taxpayers will pay if we don't. What does that say to you?

    And by the way, I'm still averaging two Atlantic Salmon per day when fishing in Canada.

    Atlantic Salmon in Temple Stream, I think not....

  14. I have fished the sandy river were temple stream meet up and I have not caught a atlantic salmon. From there.

  15. After attending the meetings and trying my best to put a positive spin on this ASF project, it just does not add up. Saying the Temple stream is of the highest priority seems to be an outlandish statement, when there are some many impediments to the movement of the fish prior to reaching the Temple Stream.

    Perhaps ASF should try and convince the fine residents of Skowhegan to remove Weston Dam before we go forth with implementing the questionable removal of Walton Dam.

    Let Mother Nature remove the dam on her terms for free to the residents of Farmington.

    The park as is, needs no enhancements. Have not heard any comments from residents that the current park is lacking.

    Let's not forget the eagles or the elimination of wet lands, which is also frowned upon by a number of state and federal organizations.

    The sooner the residents of Farmington can vote on this proposal, the better. What more is there to study or discuss?

  16. They drained the dam a few years back for maintenance and the area turned into a lifeless mudflat. Is it really worth destroying an ecosystem that has been established for two-hundred years for a few fish that probably won't hang around? I'd say, this is a rather sad situation to be stuck in. Maybe the dam is manmade, but the area built up around it sure isn't.

    Cheers,
    Shamus

  17. I just googled asf, and what i found fits there agenda

  18. Throughout the process, I asked if Maine HIstoric Preservation had been contacted. No, but it would be. When? This project has been in the plans for over a year, and as of Thursday last week, NO ONE has contacted Maine Historic Preservation - not Dick Davis, not anyone else in town, not the ASF. But they've been contacted NOW. It seems they'd heard about the planned-for project, and they were waiting to see IF or WHEN they would be contacted. Let's see where this takes us.

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